Posted by: canthold | July 23, 2007

Woodpecker Home


Back when I was having all of my technical difficulties, I wrote a piece on the tree in my front yard. Somehow it disappeared into the ether, so I’m writing about it again. I was out watering the almost-dead plants for probably the second time ever, when a man on a motorcycle stopped in front of my house and started eyeing it. Being the busy body that I am, I asked him what the heck he was doing. (As if he’d be doing anything suspicious with me watching him in broad daylight – but stranger things have happened.)

He told me that the city asked him to do an estimate to cut my tree down. What? This was the first I had heard of this and was pretty upset by it. I was shocked that they were contemplating taking down this old oak without even telling me or talking to me first. And, this is a city that can’t even afford to keep their library open. Why would they want my tree?

As it turns out, the roots are making the street sort of rumply. In order to cut them to make the street and curb smooth again, they put my tree at risk of falling on my house. This is because the electric company has been cutting the limbs away from the wires so diligently, that they’ve made my tree lopsided. The roots have built up at the street to compensate for the one sided set of branches.

Since we live on a hill, and there is some soil movement, I’m reluctant to remove anything that could help with erosion. I suggested to the guy that we just put a speed bump over the rumply part. It seemed like a good idea to me, besides, the UPS driver always drives too fast and those of us with kids are a little concerned about them getting run over. The guy that I spoke to wasn’t interested in the speed bump idea, though.

This all started in June and I’ve been stewing over it for two months now. I’ve been scheming on ways to save my beautiful oak tree. In that same amount of time, I haven’t heard anything back from the town and I think I’ve come around about the tree.

I think I’m going to let them cut it down.

As sad as this makes me, especially considering that I just saw a little woodpecker on it this morning and they’re so darn cute, I think that they might have a point. I don’t know if my tree will ever fall on my house, but I’ll be so bummed if I fought to keep the tree and then it fell. Or if it suddenly became unsound, I’d have to pay to remove it myself. And it’s not cheap.

Mostly, I’m thinking of the unpredictability of the tree’s stability. It could be fine for the next fifty years, but it could also get so imbalanced that it could fall over next year. If that thing fell on my house, it would be quite devastating, not to mention dangerous. As a mom with young kids, I’ll do anything to remove them from harm’s way.

This reminds me of prophylactic mastectomies. These women who have a family history of breast cancer are so fearful of contracting the disease that they have their breasts removed before they even get it. It sounds so extreme. It’s so preventive. While I love my breasts so much, I’d have them reconstructed immediately if I lost even one of them, I myself have had a couple of moles removed because every time I looked at them I thought they were growing cancerous by the minute. (They weren’t.)

It seems silly to think that this tree should come down just in case it might possibly think of falling down someday in the unknown future. But I’m not actually the one doing it. I’m simply considering letting the town take down the tree which has managed to disrupt the smooth street.

Then again…I haven’t heard from them. I don’t know if they’ll ever get around to doing it, either. But I will be donating to the library.


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